Monthly Archives: April 2023


April 23rd is the anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and possibly of his birth. Others who expired on this day include St George, a Cappadocian Greek soldier in the Roman army (303 AD), William Wordsworth (1850) and Rupert Brooke (1915) and this year it’s the penultimate day of the 2023 Bath Short Story Award.

With about 40 hours to go till we close, what should be your focus?

  • Tweak your title so it’s arresting. Titles of one or two words can work well: last year’s winning story ‘Dead Dog’ attracted the eye of the reader with the title and then continued to intrigue through a brilliant, deadpan opening paragraph which ended with a sufficient twist to make you read on. That said, don’t make your title quirky or too long unless this matches or complements the style of the story and subject matter.
  • Top and tail your stories. You know those small woody parts that stick out on newly picked gooseberries? If you don’t snip them off at the top and at the bottom they can stick in your throat and spoil your pleasure. It’s the same with a story. Consider if the first and last paragraphs (or lines) have the impact you want or add to the story in a meaningful way.
  • Add the senses: Is your story enriched with sensory detail: touch, taste, sounds and smell as well as sight? These enable the reader to stay inside your story world.
  • Typos: We’re not too fussed about minor typos, but a clean copy in a simple font gives the reader confidence as well as pleasure.
  • Word length: If your story is a couple of words over, that’s okay but we’ve had stories hundreds of words longer than the 2200 limit.
  • Comb through for cliches: They sneak in as nods, shrugs, sighs. Get your scalpel out. It’s fun to cut away excess flab ─ those double adjectives and pesky adverbs.
  • Check your computer ‘drawers’ for old stories and cut them down using the above tips. Remember, we do not have a lower word limit so an old story might shine more brightly if it can lose half its words.

And, who knows, there might be a few of you beginning your story journey today.

Good luck!


Under the Bonnet of Your Story

photo by Chris Knight on

One week to go before the deadline of our £1750 prize fund contest on Monday 24th April at midnight, BST.

For those last minute writers thinking of entering our 10th award, I’m going to stretch metaphor to its limits and ask you to get under the bonnet of your story. There were more tips last week, but here’s another angle on putting those final touches to your story. A post Jude created last year, that we are airing again for fun.
So, if your story was a car, you need to undertake some maintenance before it sets off on its extensive journey via our BSSA readers and hopefully to a winning destination. Continue reading

Bank Holiday Writing Gym

Maybe you have the day off work today or are celebrating Easter or other festivals with family or friends. With two weeks to go until the deadline of our 10th yearly award on April 24th, take a look over a short story you might enter and try our short writing work-out to tighten up your writing. You have up to the limit of 2200 words to play with. Continue reading